Nautilus

You Can “Catch” Stress Through a TV Screen

Your heart rate speeds up, your breathing quickens. Your muscles tighten. Your stomach ties itself in knots. All of these changes are symptoms of the condition called stress.

When animals, including humans, are under acute stress, their bodies respond with a powerful neurochemical chain reaction. Glucose, the fuel for our cells, is released into the blood from storage sites in our body, notably the liver. The elevated heart rate increases circulation of the energy-enriched blood to the muscles. Any long-term body processes not immediately necessary, such as digestion, growth, and reproduction, are slowed down. Immune defenses are enhanced, ready to respond to bodily injury, and our senses are sharpened.

The major purpose of this response, says psychiatrist and stress researcher Kristen Aschbacher, “is to help redirect energy away from less critical functions in order to devote them to survival functions.” Stress gets you

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus5 min readScience
The Brain Cells That Guide Animals: New evidence the neural rules of navigation are universal.
It may seem absurd to compare a tiny fruit fly’s brain to that of a majestic elephant. Yet it is the dream of many neuroscientists to find deep rules that very different brains share. As Gilles Laurent, a neuroscientist at the Max Planck Institute fo
Nautilus7 min read
Why Shouldn’t a Horsefly Be Named After Beyoncé?
David Bowie and Beyoncé never shared a stage, but they share the distinction of having cleverly eponymous species names in their honor. Bowie, the British glam-rock and pop sensation, is immortalized in the name of a Malaysian huntsman spider, Heter
Nautilus12 min read
How Geology Can Ease Your Mind: Take comfort that we live on a very old, durable planet.
As a geologist and professor I speak and write rather cavalierly about eras and eons. One of the courses I routinely teach is “History of Earth and Life,” a survey of the 4.5-billion-year saga of the entire planet—in a 10-week trimester. But as a hum